In November, Osedea embarked on our first tech fireside chat event to showcase why we selected London as our newest hub for expansion. Working alongside the London Tech Network, we curated the event at Benk&Bo with three panels programmed and moderated by the expertful Tatiana Der Avedissian. Martin, Beatriz and Polina ventured across the pond from Montreal and Joseph, who is overseeing growth of Osedea UK, welcomed them with open arms and introduced them to the community in the capital.
Here were the main takeaways:
Panel One: London as a tech hub
The first panel featured our very own Martin, Joseph, and Beatriz to discuss three hot topics relevant for all levels of the tech industry—London vs. other tech hubs, international expansion into London, and how London can grow as a tech hub—with an evident focus on why The Big Smoke is the place to be.
London vs. other tech hubs
Montreal and Nantes are vibrant, cosmopolitan cities brimming with technical talent. And with diversity and inclusivity amongst our values, we wanted an ecosystem that embraces and thrives on diversity for our third location. London perfectly fits that criteria. But perhaps the main reason why we chose London over other hubs is that we work with large organisations with high expectations. As such, we must continue to build and maintain a top-tier team. London’s vast and talented pool of tech resources is unmatched.
How to expand internationally into London
As a Canadian software development company that has grown from a small Montreal team of 3 in 2011 to 80 employees in 2022 across our Montreal, Nantes, and London offices, we've learned a lot. If we can impart any wisdom from both our achievements and mistakes, it would be this:
- You should start by building your solid foundation, then expand - Below is more information on how to do this
- Don’t change the business plan - Bring a people-first culture and keep your core values at the heart of everything you do.
- Treat your expansion like a new business - Take the time that’s needed to understand the market and make the right choices.
- Be patient - It takes time to provide the best service possible, foster a positive customer experience, and give back in a meaningful way. There’s no need to rush.
- Aim for longevity - Remember that this is a long game. Endurance is more critical than peaking success. Moments in time need to be building blocks for your long term goals, with each small win and loss you gain great experience.
How London can grow as a tech hub
As newcomers to the UK scene, it’s difficult for us to provide insight on how London can amplify their influence. London already has an advantage, after all, with people all over the world converging towards it, bringing new ideas, innovation, and will. That said, we’re excited to bring some of our ideas over from Montreal, like events we’ve successfully run.
- In Q3 and Q4, growth in London has certainly slowed, but that’s based on rational patience in the market. In 6-12 months, we’ll all have so much more experience than today. Here are some of our recommendations for tech professionals to grow as contributors to London’s technology community, which in turn will help London thrive again:
- Embrace this time of stabilisation - Learn something new, excel in current roles and plan next moves for personal career growth. Keep an ear out for opportunities for others, as these come back around.Don’t change what works - Connections don’t need to bear fruit overnight. Creating long term network connections is extremely valuable.
- Show up - Utilise online and in-person events, share knowledge, and don’t fear failure or others' opinions.
- Lastly, you need other people's support to get exposure to your work. Collaborate and support each other and you will see the results with time.
Panel Two: Bridging the gap between technical and non-technical team members
Joining Polina on this panel were Sasha Khivrych, a senior software engineer at Beamery, and Andy Milton, founder of Blenzen and the London Tech Network, whose excellent efforts helped us to showcase at this event.
At Osedea, we’re all about educating, empathising, and growing together. Here are some things we do to bridge the gap between our technical and non-technical talent:
- Lunch and Learns: A dedicated time each week with various subjects, from presentations of Dreams Come True week, to a deep dive into the world of AI, QA testing, or recently the pros and cons of the upcoming FIFA World Cup! We also present global quarterly meetings for everyone and manage discussions in a variety of Slack channels, keeping them active.
- Tech soft skills: Feedback workshops on how to give constructive feedback, templates for feedback forms, daily newsletters, small paragraphs in the morning wishing team members a great day touching on the subtopics of soft skills, etc.
- Non-tech soft skills: Coding workshops (basic Python or React) to learn basic skills, developer quarterly for everyone internally in the company to understand what and why we’re working with particular technologies, etc.
- Team Activities: We bring the team together monthly. Socially and casually we run a variety of activities including weekly team lunches, and with clients if possible.
And here are some other brilliant takeaways shared by the other panelists:
- Invest in a strong PM team to resolve complex situations: Stick to the agile development scheduling, estimation, planning and retrospective sessions with developers and clients religiously.
- Embrace the beauty of multiple teams: Working with a variety of people, clients and projects allows team members to expand their horizons and maintain open lines of communication for constructive feedback.
- Encourage transparency: Access to dev tools, sales tools, and design tools is essential. Giving team members the option to dive into these documents if they wish, to access each other's calendars to book meetings across teams and PMs support.
- Prioritise soft skills training: Across the industry, it is inferred there is a hiring priority for people with good soft skills and those willing to do soft skills training.
- Take time to explain terminology to non-tech people: This fosters connection and boosts understanding
- Get involved in initiatives beyond the dev world: Speak at events, participate in workshops and connect with teams in the office that are non-technical to learn about each other's initiatives.
Panel three: What is a tech leader?
Led by high-quality technical talent, Natalia Baltazar of Healios, Adam Hogge of Pebble, and Biju Joseph Jacob of Meta, this impressive panel explored what are the critical characteristics of an influential tech leader:
- Take care of your people, and they will take care of you.
- Stay ahead of the curve and ensure your team is excited about doing that work.
- Empower engineers and people in the team, so they can grow.
- From a product perspective, have a strong vision, align key stakeholders, and foster collaborative partnership. It’s essential to have a process. Do what you need to do in the time frames you have promised.
- Delegate everything you can, and whatever is left is yours.
- Provide teams with autonomy, purpose and mastery.
- Make sure you have created effective paths for the team.
- Not every personality wants to lead or manage people. Some people love their role. Respecting their choices allows them to excel at their tasks and it often leads to people taking on more responsibilities.
- If you’re not working a hybrid model, you’re not effective for most of the market. Covid taught us this: as we begin to return to the office, it is important to recognise that people can be effective in different styles. It is the different styles, when gelled, that create successful teams. Strong leadership recognises this.
- As long as a team continues to work well together, it doesn’t matter when it works. Provide guidance (something like core hours), and when you find what works for you, the business will thrive.
The event was packed with beautiful stories and we encourage you to take some time to dive into the panel recordings. We’re incredibly excited to continue our journey in London and look forward to collaborating with you all in the future.
“The London Tech Market hasn’t been stabilising for us. It has been growing. We are in a position to keep supporting business expansion in London, and that’s the beauty of this city.” ~ Maggie Simpson from Lenkie
“Attending the Osedea x LTN meet-up reminded me how much opportunity there still is in our industry despite the economic circumstances. Coming together to rebuild our networks and support our community will ensure there are still opportunities for everyone to grow and succeed.” ~ Kirsten Hurley UKEMA Director from Thoughtbot